One in five children in the UK lives in poverty and is “missing out on the essentials of a decent childhood”.
That is one of the findings from a new report published by the End Child Poverty campaign, a coalition of 100 charities committed to ending child poverty in the UK.
It revealed that in one local authority (Tower Hamlets in London) and eight Parliamentary constituencies at least 40 per cent of children are living below the poverty line. This means that they live in households earning less than 60 per cent of median income.
The study, entitled The Child Poverty Map of the UK, revealed a wide disparity within regions.
In London, for example, the constituency of Poplar and Limehouse has a child poverty rate of 41 per cent, while in Richmond it is seven per cent. In the North West, 38 per cent of children in Manchester are poor, while in the Ribble Valley the figure is seven per cent.
The report said that poverty “damages children’s experiences of childhood and harms their future life chances”, and cited research by Save the Children that 61 per cent of parents in poverty had cut back on food and more than a quarter had skipped meals.
Enver Solomon, chair of the End Child Poverty campaign, said that the Child Poverty Map showed “the gross levels of inequality” faced by some children.
He added: “Far too may children whose parents are struggling to make a living are having to go hungry and miss out on the essentials of a decent childhood that all young people should be entitled to.”
The campaign has written to local authorities with the highest levels of child poverty asking how they plan to tackle the issue.
“The government must also closely examine its current strategy for reducing poverty and consider what more it could do to ensure millions of children’s lives are not blighted by the corrosive impact that poverty has on their daily existence,” said Mr Solomon.
Meanwhile Ellen Broome, director of policy at The Children’s Society, said the study showed “the truly shocking scale of child poverty” in the UK.
“Worryingly, the situation is set to get much worse,” she warned. “Families up and down the country are already struggling to make ends meet and the government’s decision to cap benefit increases for the next three years at below inflation will drive an additional 200,000 children into poverty.”
The End Child Poverty campaign used 2012 data collated by researchers from Loughborough University’s Centre for Research in Social Policy. The Child Poverty Map of the UK can be downloaded at www.endchildpoverty.org.uk/